Analysis

Phillies Pushing Away Hall of Fame Level Shortstop

Is Rollins a HOF'er like Jeter? (AP)

Is Rollins a HOF’er like Jeter? (AP)

It’s no secret; Phillies franchise shortstop Jimmy Rollins and new manager Ryne Sandberg don’t like each other very much.

Sandberg sent a message by benching Rollins this spring and gave a “no comment” when asked if Rollins was a positive influence on the team. The latest in the Rollins saga is that the front office is wondering if the team would be better off by trading Rollins and appeasing its new manager.

A trade for Rollins seems unlikely as he has a full no trade clause, and likely only wants to play for a west coast teams, none of which have a need at the current position.

If Rollins was eventually moved, the Phillies would be trading away the best shortstop in franchise history. But would they also be trading away a future hall of famer?

Initially, most Phillies fans would say no. I put a poll up asking the public their thoughts on the matter and 62% said no. Whether personal feelings or beliefs play a role in that is unknown.

However, baseball is a game about numbers, and when you look at the numbers James Calvin Rollins has certainly put himself in the conversation.

The not-so-storied franchise that’s been around since 1883 has seen quite a few solid shortstops in its time, and Jimmy Rollins is the best of the bunch. Better than Larry Bowa, better than the Whiz Kids’ Grammy Hamner. Yes, Jimmy Rollins is the best shortstop in franchise history. The diminutive shortstop from Oakland, California holds every offensive record for short stops. At bats, games played hits, runs, doubles, and triples, all. He owns all of them. But let’s move away from the SS and move to the team as a whole.

When it comes to Phillies team records Rollins is also at the top, or close to it. Rollins is second all-time in games played, and 2nd all-time in at bats (a record he will likely pass this year as he is only 262 at bats behind Mike Schmidt). He is 3rd in runs scored, and has a chance to move into second place. Of course, he would need his contract extension to vest. He’s 4th in franchise history in hits, and will pass all those in front of him, including Mike Schmidt, when he gets hit No. 60 this season. He’s the all-time leader in doubles, 3rd in triples, second in stolen bases, and is in the top 10 for homeruns, runs batted in, and walks.

So it’s a lock that Jimmy Rollins will be on the Phillies Wall of Fame, but what about Cooperstown? Ozzie Smith had his Gold Gloves, and Cal Ripken had his streak, but Rollins doesn’t have that ONE thing to put him in. Or does he?

Rollins is one of just seven shortstops with 2,000 hits and 700 extra base hits. Rollins is one of just five shortstops with 2,000 hits and 400 stolen bases. It’s the combination of the two stats that display how impressive the Phillies shortstop is. Only Jimmy Rollins and Honus Wagner have 2000 hits, 700 extra base hits, and 400 stolen bases. Let that sink in.

If that doesn’t do it for you, how about the fact that Rollins is the only shortstop to win an MVP award in addition to four Gold Gloves. He has been one of the premier defensive shortstops at his position, and those four Gold Gloves are evidence. Oh wait, there’s more.

Among short stops with at least 10 years of service time, Rollins ranks second only behind Omar Vizquel in fielding percentage.
But what about when you compare Rollins to other shortstops in the hall of fame? Rollins’ numbers are right there. Barry Larkin is a good measuring stick as he was the most recent shortstop to be inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2012. Rollins has more doubles, triples, homeruns, and stolen bases than Larkin. Moreover, Rollins will likely have more hits (only 165 behind). Both shortstops boast one MVP award apiece, but Rollins has won more Gold Gloves.

Ozzie Smith? Rollins has more doubles, triples, homeruns, and runs batted in. pretty impressive when you consider the Wizard of Oz had 1,306 more at bats than Jimmy. Or how about the” Iron Man” Cal Ripken Jr? Rollins has more triples, stolen bases, and Gold Gloves.

Then, there’s Phil Rizzuto. If there is a case to be made for Rollins to be in the Hall of Fame you need look no further than the former Yankees shortstop. Rollins passes Rizzuto in every offensive category. At bats, games played, hits, doubles, triples, homeruns, runs batted in, stolen bases, runs scored. They both have one MVP; Rizzuto however never won any Gold Gloves. It’s hard for me to say Rizzuto is a hall of famer but Jimmy Rollins is not.

One of the knocks against Jimmy is the new school way of thinking. Instead of looking at the hard numbers, fans are now focusing on WAR, as well as on base percentage. His .327 career OBP isn’t exactly impressive, and his .269 career batting average doesn’t scream HOF. Out of the 25 shortstops in the Hall of Fame only 5 have a lower career OBP than Rollins with four of those five retiring in or before 1935 (Luis Aparicio is the only one to retire after 1935). So that.269 career BA might not be all that impressive, but it’s still higher than Ozzie Smith’s at .262 BA, and isn’t far off Rizzuto’s .273 career BA.

Something needs to be said for longevity. Rollins plays one of the most demanding positions in baseball, and does so at an elite level. Even when Rollins offensive game is struggling, his glove work is still some of the best in baseball.

Rollins currently ranks 24th all-time at games played at shortstop with everyone ahead of him having played 16 or more years.With a healthy season Rollins could move into the top 15. And while the core of the Phillies has been injury prone, Rollins has stayed healthy. No active shortstop with at least six seasons at the position has averaged the 147 games-per-year that Rollins has.

J-Roll needs 434 plate appearances for the option on his contract to vest. He’s done that in every season but two (2010 & his first call up in 2000). He has routinely said that he will not waive his no trade clause, so if all goes right (or wrong, depending on your stance) he will be back in Phillies pinstripes in 2015 – and at that time will be 36 years old.

Rollins has been awesome, frustrating, incredible, outspoken and unapologetic about it. He led the Phillies into the playoffs in 2007 and brought the city its first championship in 25 years when the Phillies won the World Series in 2008.

Defensively, offensively, Jimmy Rollins has been one of the best shortstops of his era. He is one of just 15 shortstops to win an MVP award, something Derek Jeter has never done. In the era of steroids, his name has never been linked to PED use or a failed drug test. Yes, his OBP is low, but when you look at the complete player, the numbers he has put up, the awards he has won, its tough to keep him out.

Maybe he hasn’t been the “leader” that the city has always wanted him to be, but the numbers certainly speak for themselves.

Rollins isn’t a first ballot Hall of Famer, and he isn’t even a second ballot Hall of Famer. But it is my belief that he IS a Hall of Famer. It will take a couple of years and maybe, like Rizzuto, it will come down to the veterans committee voting him in, but he WILL get in. Jimmy Rollins has had a Hall of Fame career and were in the last few years of it, so take time to soak it in and enjoy it.

48 Comments

48 Comments

  1. Holmgren Fan

    March 19, 2014 at 8:20 am

    Jimmy Rollins had good numbers until 2010, circa.

    Instead of trading him, he was resigned to a pretty big contract.

    Nobody’s argueing that Rollins wasn’t a very good player.

    The issue is that he’s not anymore and he seems to be a cancer to the organization as he isn’t willing to assume leadership needed.

    I’m sure it would be in the best interest of both Phillies, who desperately need a rebuild, Jimmy, who probably would like a shot at another WS title, and Detroit, who needs a decent SS on a short term deal.

    Ruben should realize he shouldn’t be asking for top prospects to part with Jimmy.

    • schmenkman

      March 19, 2014 at 8:23 am

      “he seems to be a cancer to the organization” – Umm, No.

      • wbramh

        March 19, 2014 at 3:00 pm

        Sagittarius.

        (all credit to Schmenk)

    • Eileen

      March 19, 2014 at 11:52 am

      At a Spring training game I attended Jimmy stood in the hot sun and signed autographs for EVER fan requesting one. When he found out a little boy was having a birthday, he personalized the message when he signed the ball. The boy was so excited. So, in my view Jimmy is a great role model for the kinds. Utley not so much. For example wouldn’t sign anything for anybody, including the little kids. Jimmy is a keeper from a personal and well as a stat perspective.

      • wbramh

        March 19, 2014 at 3:14 pm

        That Rollins feller sounds like a real monster.
        Wouldn’t let those poor kids leave before signing his name all over their baseball paraphernalia.

      • Sherry

        March 20, 2014 at 9:03 am

        I agree with you Eileen, furthermore, since the parade in 2008, Utley dropping the “F Bomb”, role model he is not 🙁

  2. Scott Culpepper

    March 19, 2014 at 8:27 am

    Had Rollins played his career as a Yankee, he’d be a HOF lock, and regarded as one of the very best shortstops to ever play the game.

    • Manny

      March 19, 2014 at 8:50 am

      True that.

    • Joel

      March 19, 2014 at 11:59 am

      Yes, you can’t compare him to Rizzuto, as Jimmy’s totally devoid of Yankness. This guy does make good arguments. Only negative is OBP, which is completely offset by his speed and power.

    • wbramh

      March 19, 2014 at 2:57 pm

      Bingo.

  3. AMC

    March 19, 2014 at 8:44 am

    The HOF shouldn’t be a popularity contest! Over the last decade or so, Rollins has proven himself worthy of Cooperstown. I hope Sandverg sets aside his personal feelings & let’s Jimmy finish his career where he should….in Philly!

  4. tom

    March 19, 2014 at 8:56 am

    Rollins is not the best SS Phillies ever had. You must be a good leader in the Clubhouse for that He seams to be a cancer. Teach the younger players how to play better and lead by example. Have some Class Jimmy!!!

    • schmenkman

      March 19, 2014 at 9:05 am

      Cancer? lol give me a break. There really is no debate about whether he’s the best ever, and hasn’t been for several years now.

      • Joel

        March 19, 2014 at 12:03 pm

        Please explain the logic that he was the best ever and now is not.

      • schmenkman

        March 19, 2014 at 12:10 pm

        Sorry, my wording was terrible. To rephrase: There really is no debate about whether he’s the best ever (he is), and there hasn’t been any debate for several years now.

      • wbramh

        March 19, 2014 at 3:08 pm

        Boy that word “cancer” is sure getting tossed around like a motorized feather of late.

        Considering the frightening revelation of actual cancer in our Phillies family this week, I’d say it would be a good time to cool it down a notch… aside from the absurd misuse of the figurative application of the word in this case.

        Anybody agree?

    • Vinnie

      March 19, 2014 at 9:25 am

      I think he is EASILY the best SS the Phillies ever had. I just don’t understand the hate for him.

      Sanburg made a rookie manager mistake, and it’s snowballing into this circus. Nobody cares if he gets sat down because of something he said or did (or didn’t do). If a better player is comming up, and he’s being challanged for his position, that is good too. But don’t lie about it after the fact, and say you wanted to Freddie some playing time.

      Sanburg DIDN’T like the “Who Care’s” quote, and he should have just told him that, and moved on.

  5. A. Freitas

    March 19, 2014 at 9:32 am

    “Whether personal feelings or believes play a role in that is unknown.”

    Believes? Didn’t anyone edit this article?

  6. Rich

    March 19, 2014 at 9:38 am

    One thing you left out about
    Phil Rizzuto is that he had 8 World Series rings.

    • schmenkman

      March 19, 2014 at 9:41 am

      Much less meaningful for an individual player in baseball, than say basketball. But yes, rightly or (I’d say) wrongly, that’s why he’s in the Hall.

      • Rich

        March 19, 2014 at 9:50 am

        Ted Williams once said that if the Red Sox had Phil Rizzuto, they would have won all those World Series instead of the Yankees.

      • schmenkman

        March 19, 2014 at 9:59 am

        That’s interesting, since Vern Stephens was arguably even better than Rizzuto. All-time greatest hitters say the darnedest things.

    • wbramh

      March 19, 2014 at 3:38 pm

      I suspect HOF voters are prone to confusing the team sport of baseball with singles tennis where eight championships would tend to be a more perfect measure of the player – and further taint their decisions according to the size of the media market the player performed in.

  7. Chuck A.

    March 19, 2014 at 10:46 am

    Here we go again. With the “C” word. Someone even used the term “malignant mass” in one of yesterday’s threads. I mean, I am really speechless at the utter ridiculousness of this sort of stuff and these sorts of things that some of you are actually saying.

  8. nahroots

    March 19, 2014 at 11:19 am

    Lots of racism going on in this piece…

    • Chuck A.

      March 19, 2014 at 11:36 am

      Where exactly is the racism? Nowhere in this whole mess does anyone in the media (including the writers here) even mention that. Maybe some of the commentariat, including you, is just reading into it too much. Just because Jimmy Rollins, who is black, is being compared to white guys Chase Utley (yesterday) and Phil Rizzuto (today) doesn’t mean that there is racism. Please.

      • nahroots

        March 19, 2014 at 1:35 pm

        It was sarcasm – but, admittedly, I set the bar pretty high on that one, Chuck.

  9. Puddin Apodaca

    March 19, 2014 at 11:39 am

    Not even close —- Rollins is hands down the best shortstop in Phillies history. And Larry Bowa is jealous as dickins about this, about how much money he makes, about everything good about Rollins. His fielding combines with his offensive prowess will certainly make him a very strong candidate for the Hall of Fame, as well.

  10. Chrs

    March 19, 2014 at 11:47 am

    Who cares.

  11. Phil Lee

    March 19, 2014 at 11:56 am

    The “cancer”, as some foolish people have called him, played a part in 5 division titles, 2 world series appearances and 1 WS Title. If he’s a clubhouse “cancer” then hope it spreads to the rest of the clubhouse.

    Couldn’t care less about the Hall of Fame. What about this season? Does trading him help us this season? Who plays if he’s dealt? Galvis? Not sure trading him helps us unless we get something valuable in return which I don’t think you’ll get.

    Sandberg needs to shut up and let things play out. Jimmy doesn’t have anything to prove but Sandberg does. Don’t get me wrong Jimmy needs to do the right things and try and actually be a leadoff hitter for a change but when the managers keep batting him leadoff it’s hard to blame him.

  12. betasigmadeltashag

    March 19, 2014 at 12:13 pm

    It is totally wrong to consider trading Jimmy. They will not get anything that will help this year or next. And there are a few promising young talent at SS in the organization. Let his option vest and let him retire after 2015. And where does cancer in the club house come from. Outside Bowa and Sandburg I have never heard a bad thing about his locker room leadership. Watch the 2008 WS video where follows Burrell into the locker room during the game. Ask “where is #5 haven’t seen him” (para-phrasing)Pat the bat proceeded to go out and get a clutch hit. Maybe it was editing but it is a classic Jimmy move.
    I personally would not be surprised if this team does not contend for a division title or be in the wild card race well into August Mr. Sandburg is a one and done manager

  13. David Wallace

    March 19, 2014 at 1:05 pm

    Great article but who cares if he’s a hall of famer I want wins and hustle which he hasn’t helped provide the past few years so trade him for some type of value. And stop hanging out no trade clauses

    • Chuck A.

      March 19, 2014 at 1:27 pm

      Again…the team did not give him a no trade clause. As per the collective bargaining agreement he has 10 and 5 rights (ten years in the league, 5 with one team) to veto a trade.

  14. photoFred

    March 19, 2014 at 2:01 pm

    I am not impressed with Ryno’s handling of this so far. It’s the manager’s job to keep a bunch of disparate personalities functioning at their best. Picking a fight with one of the key players—one for whom there is no clear replacement, even—is just stupid. In this situation we need less Dallas Green and more Joe Torre.

    I’m hoping there is less to this than it might appear what with 3 posts in 2 days on philliesnation.com. But not a great way to go into the season.

    • Steve

      March 19, 2014 at 7:19 pm

      I agree, why start this crap right before the season!

  15. George

    March 19, 2014 at 2:05 pm

    I haven’t read anything lately about the Rollins-Sandberg relationship, and the talk of the front office thinking about trading him is rumor only, and could have been started by one or two malcontents (something which every business office has).

    To me, Sandberg made a mistake in not communicating the why of the benching before it became a media Q and A. I also think Sandberg needs to realize that Rollins’ mouth and Rollins’ performance are two entirely different things, and there are different kinds of leadership besides the Sandberg way. I hope these things have occurred and that’s the reason why we’re now only hearing sportswriter speculation, because Rollins, despite the criticism, (most of which seems to be mere pettiness) is an extremely important piece of the team, even in a mediocre year. He can’t just be replaced with Galvis unless Galvis actually learns to hit.

  16. lefty

    March 19, 2014 at 3:10 pm

    Could someone help me? I seem to have misplaced my “can of worms” top. And this can has been open long enough for my liking. Could someone seal it please? Would it be too much to ask for permanent seal?

  17. Chrs

    March 19, 2014 at 3:25 pm

    Not to mention that Jimmy has batted in the wrong spot in the batting order his whole career.

    • schmenkman

      March 19, 2014 at 3:28 pm

      Right, so he deserves some credit for filling in because the Phils never got around to getting a “classic” leadoff hitter. Yes, I agree — the players they’ve had throughout his career fit better elsewhere in the order.

  18. Stephen

    March 19, 2014 at 3:34 pm

    Don’t forget he is also 1 of 4 people in the 20-20-20-20 club and also a member of the 30-30 club.

  19. Chris

    March 19, 2014 at 4:07 pm

    Just read his comments today on philly.com I must admit he says ALL the wrong things.

  20. wbramh

    March 19, 2014 at 4:18 pm

    Larry B: .260 .300 .320 .620 – 1 GG
    Louis A. .262 .311 .343 .653 – 9 GGs
    Ozzie S. .262 .337 .328 .666 – 13 GGs
    Phil R: .273 .351 .355 .706 – 0 GGs
    Jimmy R: .269 .327 .426 .753 – 3 GGs
    Ernie B: .274 .330 .500 .830 – 1 GG

    Adding in his exceptional fielding (3 gold gloves to none for HOFer Rizzuto), it would appear Jimmy fits comfortably somewhere between Phil and first ballot (no-brainer) HOFer like Ernie Banks. Jimmy is clearly the superior offensive player of HOFers Aparicio and Smith.

    So yes, Hands down, Jimmy should be in the Hall.

    • A Ninny Mouse

      May 11, 2014 at 3:50 pm

      You know Gold Gloves doesn’t exist in the days when Rizzuto played right? Not to mention the awards would lose credibility in 1999 when a certain DH was awarded one.

  21. bacardipr

    March 19, 2014 at 6:16 pm

    I know this going to sound cliche. You dont have to necessarily like someone or even agree with them to do a job. I do wonder what involvement Bowa has in all this. This needs to be squashed before the season starts. I believe if the team sucks J-Roll will probably waive his 10/5 clause.

  22. Steve

    March 19, 2014 at 7:17 pm

    Jimmy is a HOF lock in my opinion. Do we need to do something with him right now, NO. Let us see how the season starts off and make that decision then. He ha speeved me on one or more occasions but give the player his props, he is a great shortstop people.

  23. yysteve

    March 19, 2014 at 10:59 pm

    Instead of vilifying Jimmy, they should encourage him to make some more outrageous claims like “We’re the team to beat in the East!” Anyone remember how he backed that up? Or how about the walk-off double off Broxton to win game 4 of the LCS in 2009? Perhaps one of the franchises’ highlight moments.

  24. Double Trouble Del

    March 19, 2014 at 11:01 pm

    I look forward to Jimmy being one of the bright spots this season. I look forward to him jacking a first pitch out of the ballpark in at least one game this year. I look forward to him going to the hole and unleashing a laser to first base to nail one of the Upton brothers on a close play. I look forward to seeing him break every record within his grasp and I look forward to seeing him on the dais at Cooperstown

  25. Phil

    March 22, 2014 at 10:49 am

    As someone who is really into SABR stats the one thing that separates Jimmy Rollins from the hall of very good and the hall of fame, is his OBP. Jimmy could have been one of the greatest players in the history of baseball if he drew more walks. Is he a Hall of Fame caliber player, possibly. He sports a 45.9 fWAR. 60 is the magic number to say whether or not a player is hall worthy or not, and even then that is a borderline stat. Jimmy also doesn’t boast an impressive peak. He’s basically always just been a very good player, not an elite player. He’s only had two seasons with a WAR above 5 and a 5 WAR is an all-star caliber year. The intangibles and counting stats could get him in, but I don’t think he is a HoFer despite him being one of my all time favorite players.

    The only true HoF caliber player on the 08 Phillies team is Chase Utley. He is sitting at a comfortable 55.2 WAR with an incredible peak to go with it (2nd best player in baseball from 05-09 behind only Albert Pujols.) If he can ride out his contract putting up similar numbers than he has since 2011 he should be a shoe in. I think the only thing that keeps him out is his lack of PAs.

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